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Memorials and Tributes to John Lewis begin

Congressman and civil rights leader lost his battle with cancer earlier this month - NBC's Chris Pollone reports

TROY, Ala. (KYMA, KECY/NBC News) - Memorial services and tributes to the late Congressman John Lewis began Saturday in his home town.

A celebration of life in Troy, Alabama included friends and family. All gathered to remember the American icon and life-long public servant who came from their midst.

John Lewis during the civil rights marches of the 1960's

"I remember the day when John left home. Mother told him not to get in trouble, not to get in the way. but we all know that John got in trouble. And he got in the way. But it was good trouble." said the Congressman's brother, Samuel Lewis.

Lewis called it "good trouble," standing up for the powerless, and fighting for equal rights. He rose to prominence alongside Martine Luther King Junior, and other foot soldiers of the movement.

Rep. Terri Sewell, (D-Alabama)

"For me, this is particularly hard. It's personal. I grew up in Selma, to be Alabama's first black Congresswoman, I know I owe my existence to John and those foot soldiers. their bravery and their activism." said Rep. Terri Sewell, the Democrat who represents Alabama's 7th District.

Lewis's work, and his selflessness, inspired generations.

Lewis's young nephew Jaxon spoke during Saturday's service

"My name is Jaxon Lewis Brewster and Congressman John Lewis was my uncle and my hero and it's up to us to keep his legacy alive."

On Sunday, Lewis will cross the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma one last time. It was there, in 1965, he showed he was willing to die for the cause. Alabama state troopers viciously beat him and others as they marched for civil rights. The pictures stunned the nation, and inspired Congressional action.


"He always wanted to improve the lives of others without any concern for himself. His deep faith in god made him extraordinary. He was fearless because he was trusting in God and he was chosen." said Rosa Mae Tyner.

The late congressman will lie in state in Washington Monday. His funeral will be held in his Atlanta congressional district Thursday.

Mourners remember Lewis during services in his hometown

Though he impacted and inspired Americans all across the land during his life, family and friends in Pike County, Alabama will always remember him as "the boy from Troy."

Lewis's body will lie in state at the Alabama state capitol Sunday. It will then be flown to Washington for a series of services. He will be laid to rest in Atlanta.

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